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Fire chiefs halt burning of debris piles in Central Oregon, impose summer burning restrictions.

HOLLY M. GILL - Jefferson County burning restrictions took effect May 31. Central Oregon fire chiefs halted burning of debris piles on June 1.The Central Oregon Fire Chiefs Association announced that the burning of debris piles on residential and private lands was closed as of June 1, in Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes counties, due to the summer wildland fire season.

"Many areas in Central Oregon are drying out quickly and local, state and federal wildfire suppression resources can be quickly needed as the conditions continue to dry out," said Matt Smith, chairman of COFCA.

"Even though specific areas in Central Oregon may receive a bit of rain or even a spring snow shower before or after the closure, the region as a whole is quickly approaching fire season conditions that create unsafe conditions for residential outdoor debris burning," he added.

The association strongly urges homeowners to prepare their property for the upcoming fire season now, before there is smoke on the horizon. Homeowners who have not yet removed debris from their property now have three options – chip the debris, haul it to a local transfer site, or pile and cover it until fall.

Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 began imposing summer burning restrictions on May 31. The fire district will not allow any open residential or commercial burning of yard debris, grass or other waste.

The burning of paper/wood products in an approved burning barrel is permitted from dawn until 10 a.m., at which time it must be extinguished.

By following some simple tips on burn barrel safety and construction, people can help ensure they are FireSafe:

• Use only approved burn barrels.

• Locate a barrel a minimum of 15 feet from combustible materials.

• Maintain a 10-foot minimum cleared areas around the barrel (no grass or weeds.)

• Use a heavy mesh screen on top to reduce flying embers.

• Never leave your fire unattended.

• Have a garden hose available at all times.

Remember that burning is a privilege and extreme caution shall be exercised by the homeowner when burning.

For more information regarding the summer restrictions on burning, call the fire station at 541-475-7274 during regular business hours.

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